Friday, September 29, 2006

News I couldn't make up

Millions of anchovies beach themselves in Spain

So far, workers have cleaned up more than three tons of juvenile anchovies that inexplicably beached themselves in northern Spain. Now, all we need is eighty or ninety tons of romaine, a tanker truck of worcestershire sauce and a couple hundred thousand coddled eggs and we're well on our way to the world's largest caesar salad.

Wouldn't "Beached Anchovies" make a great name for a band?

Monday, September 25, 2006

We cannot do it captain! We don't have the power!

The first rocket fired from the USA's first commercial spaceport crashed after reaching 40,000 feet, well short of even suborbital altitude. Good thing this happened now. Next month, the same company is scheduled to launch a rocket whose payload will include James Doohan's ashes.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Life Imitates Something

During my morning perusal of the headlines, I found "Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Throwing Her Sons in San Francisco Bay." Seems a San Francisco woman stands accused of drowning her three sons by, well, throwing them in San Francisco Bay. According to the psychiatric evaluation, she believed God had commanded her to do this. Sound familiar? Five years ago, Andrea Yates made headlines for killing her five children because she thought she was saving them from eternal damnation. There is even a website that compiles the details of instances of mothers who kill their children (they log nine instances, involving 23 children) for reasons ranging from "God commanded it" to "so we could live together in Heaven." Do me a favor. Don't click that link. It is a real downer. I'm just providing it to prove that such things do happen, and that there is documented evidence that religious beliefs, however misguided they may be, led at least nine women to commit infanticide (fillicide, really, as not all of the victims were infants).

That's just something to keep in mind as election season gets into full swing and legislators who have not seen a video game since Q-Bert start writing laws restricting access to video games. One of the favorite arguments for this sort of legislation is that video games might lead people to imitate what they see in the games. Thus, access to video games must be tightly controlled, for the children's sake. Children could get ideas from violent video games.

I would just like to note that these legislators seem to be just peachy-keen with psychotic mothers having access to the Book of Genesis, in which God orders a parent to kill his child. Talk about getting ideas from the media.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Penguin News

African penguins get their own suburban development cookie-cutter houses on an island near Cape Town. The artificial igloo burrows are intended to make up for humans stripping off the layer of the island where the penguins formerly dug their own designer burrows. In other places, trash bins cut in half and fastened to the ground serve as artificial nest sites.

Even better than a "Man Bites Dog" story

From the AP, out of Beijing, "Man Bites Panda."

Seems a drunk man decided the pandas at the Beijing zoo were all cute and cuddly, and just had to hug one. The panda took exception to be startled awake from its nap and bit the drunk guy on the leg. The drunk guy took exception to being bitten by a panda and bit the panda back. The panda then went for the other leg, and, as the AP report so succinctly put it, "A tussle ensued."

The drunk guy required stitches--and he should consider himself lucky that is all he needs, since the panda's diet consists of a plant that is also used as a substitute for concrete rebar. Preliminary reports indicate the panda is OK.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Console Wars

I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction: Nintendo is going to win the Battle for the Living Room. While Sony and Microsoft are busy tacking on high-definition DVD players and processing power up the wazoo, Nintendo has found a way to give consumers what is really important: a way to check the weather. Pretty pictures might do something on movie night, whenever the consumers get the high-def TV sets and the studios put out movies worth watching, but people will check the weather and headlines every morning.

Bye, Bye, Xena

2003 UB 313, whose consignment to dwarf planet status was overshadowed by the fracas over Pluto, now has an official name. UB 313, provisionally known as Xena since it was in the running to be the tenth planet (or planet Roman numeral X) before astronomers decided to lock down the solar system at Neptune, was christened (136199) Eris, or just Eris for short. Eris' moon--known as Gabrielle while its parent planet was known as Xena, since S/2005 UB 313 1 is a bit of a mouthful--is now (136199) Eris I. (136199) Eris 1 is still a bit wordy, so you can just call the moon Dysnomia.

Eris is the Greek goddess of strife, and legend has it that a snub of Eris started the Trojan War. Dysnomia was the Greek goddess of lawlessness Eris' daughter. Wikipedia posits that the name might be an offhand reference to Xena: Warrior Princess, who was played by Lucy Lawless. Considering all the fracas over planethood for Eris and Pluto, the names might be nod to astronomers' sense of humor.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What's next? Pop-Tart loofahs?

This infernal itching is driving me nuts. So nuts that I just took someone's recommendation to bathe in a watered-down version of my breakfast. Lucky for me, that's oatmeal and milk. Hash browns would clog the drain.

Walking Calamity

I feel like my old Pontiac. For a while, I owned an '84 Firebird that started off life with me by having the brakes completely fail en route to the title inspection. It had a minimum number of things that had to be malfunctioning at any given time, and I think my body is starting to have the same issue. Now that the damages from falling out of a car have resolved themselves into a large black-and-blue mark, I have developed a raging case of hives over both forearms.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Welcome to Fall

Among my more normal phobias is heights. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to keep my feet close to terra firma. I very nearly refused to move to a third floor apartment because I couldn't go up the wooden stairwell. As far as I am concerned, if I was meant to lay eyes on something, it would be within 9 feet of the ground. We own a 21 foot extension ladder, and I refuse to use more than the bottom three rungs. Thus, when the time came to pick the rest of the pears today, I sent Elie up the ladder.

So what did I do after refusing to go four feet off the ground? Slipped off the door frame of a car while trying to wax the middle of the roof, of course. Judging by the laceration, scrape, and contusion on my back from trying to catch myself on the passenger door with my ribs, I fell about six inches. Much more of this, and I'll be belly-crawling my way through life.